“Can I change my child’s name?” is a question I am frequently asked. If the child is under 16 years of age, those who hold parental responsibility can change the child’s name.

The birth mother of a child automatically obtains parental responsibility, the biological father will obtain that same responsibility if he is named on the child’s birth certificate, married to the mother, entered in to a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or is granted parental responsibility by the court.

Those who care for a child who is not biologically related but are granted a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order will have that parental responsibility also.

How to Change the Name

To change a child’s name, whether that be the child’s first name, surname or both the consent of all those who hold parental responsibility is required. There are some restrictions on names which can be used, for example the new name must include a forename and a surname and should not include any numbers or symbols.

If there is an agreement then a change of name deed can be prepared.  The document is then registered with relevant agencies, for example the child’s school, doctor, passport and on www.gov.uk for the purposes of national insurance.  This list is by no means exhaustive and the change of name document will need to be provided as evidence.  The child’s birth certificate will not be changed as this is considered to be a historical record.

Where only one parent holds parental responsibility it is advisable to still seek the written consent of the other as he or she could later apply to the court for the name to be changed back.

What if I cannot get the other parent’s consent?

In the event of a dispute, where one party who holds parental responsibility does not give their consent a child’s name cannot be changed without court intervention. In these circumstances the first step is to attend mediation to see if an agreement can be reached.  If mediation fails or is not suitable for the parties an application to the court for a Specific Issue order can be made.

Where the consent of an absent parent cannot be obtained it is still possible to change the child’s name but it is necessary to demonstrate that all reasonable efforts have been made to locate that person.  Even then it can cause some difficulties with documents like passports.

If you want to change your child’s name our experienced family law team at Farleys can help.  We can prepare the change of name deed, often on the same day, subject to availability.  In the event of a dispute we can guide and assist you through court process.

To make an appointment or for more information call us on 0333 3314598 or submit a query online today.